pork sausage rolls, new zealand style

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We recently returned from two weeks in New Zealand, where we witnessed two of our dear friends get married. ¬†They couldn’t have chosen a more scenic country – New Zealand is, quite simply, breathtaking in its beauty. ¬†Everything around us seemed to have been saturated, magnified.

The blues were bluer.

boundless bluea hidden lake

The greens, lusher.

Routeburn
Hobbiton

Even the mists seemed mistier, more mysterious (misterious?).

mists over Lake Howden

And on top of that, there were meat pies and sausage rolls aplenty. Give me a choice and I’ll pick a savoury pastry over a sweet one. I was in savoury pie mecca.

I found my favourite pie shop in Queenstown, a tiny place called the Ferg Bakery. During the six days we spent in the area, I must have made near daily pilgrimages there for mini feasts of sausage rolls and their numerous flavours of pie (it’s never too early in the morning for a venison/portobello or spiced lamb shank pie, washed down with a shot of espresso). And while my frozen store-bought puff pastry is nowhere near as buttery or flaky or shatteringly crisp, having one of these warm, porky rolls for breakfast will tide me over until New Zealand and I meet again.

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new zealand pork sausage rolls

 
These rolls freeze well unbaked, and you can bake them directly from the freezer – just add a few more minutes to the baking time. Serve with a dollop of ketchup, or if you’re feeling bold, Sriracha.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, plus more for sprinkling on the rolls
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, cooked
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (half of a 17.5 oz package)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, about a minute. Do not let them burn.

Saute the onion in a pan with a swirl of olive oil until it is softened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the pork, salt and pepper, fennel seeds, parsley, garlic, paprika, onion and milk until combined.

Roll out the puff pastry to about a 10×12 rectangle and cut it into two lengthwise. Spread half the pork mixture down the length of one of the pieces and then fold the sides of the pastry up and around the pork. Pinch the edges together to seal. Cut the sausage roll into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on how large you want them. Repeat with the other half of the puff pastry.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the sausage rolls on the baking sheet, seam side down.
Brush each sausage roll generously with the beaten egg and sprinkle a few fennel seeds on top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.

Makes: 6-8 generously sized rolls.

spot prawn risotto

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The prawns were still alive. They lay on the baking sheet, glaring at me balefully with their beady black eyes and feebly waving their legs in an attempt to fend off my basting brush.

I painted them with melted butter, showered them in a mini hailstorm of salt and pepper and carried them over to the oven. I hesitated, then muttered, “I’m sorry. This should be quick.” before sliding the tray under the broiler.

Lesson learned: these little guys stay motile for quite some time after you bring them home from the live seafood tank! In San Francisco, I was able to find them at Sunset Supermarket, and they are easily recognizable from their red and white banded legs. They taste distinctly different from your average shrimp – their flesh is much sweeter and pleasantly chewy.

I decided to serve them with a risotto made with shrimp stock, for double the seafood oomph. The shrimp stock is quick to make, especially if you already have the shrimp shells lying around. (tip: whenever I make something that calls for peeled shrimp, I usually buy whole unpeeled shrimp and throw the heads and shells into a Ziploc bag in the freezer.) You can peel the spot prawns before broiling to make them easier to eat afterwards, but I do find they stay moister in the shell. Plus, I like getting my hands messy with cracking open their oversized heads, letting the juices run out and soak into the risotto. Enjoying everything the prawns have to offer is the least I can do for subjecting them to death by broiler.

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Spot prawn risotto
Ingredients:

  • 6 large spot prawns
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 4 cups shrimp stock (recipe follows), or store bought clam juice
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • A large handful of watercress or arugula
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

Cut the tomato in half and grate it on the holes of a box grater. Discard the skin.

Finely chop the onion.

Bring the stock to a gentle simmer on the stove and keep it simmering while you make the risotto.

Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil into a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the grated tomato and saute for a minute or so until it thickens a little. Add the rice and cook, stirring often until the grains begin to toast and smell nutty, about 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine and stir until it is absorbed, another minute.

Add a ladle of stock and a pinch of salt to the rice, and turn the heat down to maintain a simmer. Stir frequently until the stock is almost completely absorbed. Then continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, always waiting until the broth is nearly fully absorbed before adding more, and stirring frequently. This will take about 20 minutes. The grains should be completely cooked through and tender, but still firm to the bite, and the rice should have a creamy consistency. When you shake the pan back and forth, the rice should move en masse with it.

About five minutes before the risotto is done, lay the prawns on a baking sheet. Brush them on both sides with melted butter, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Slide the tray under the broiler, and broil on high heat for 3 minutes on each side.

When the risotto is cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest and parsley.

Pile the watercress on top of the risotto and serve with the prawns on top and a squeeze of lemon.

Serves 2-3.

Shrimp stock
Ingredients:

  • Shells and heads from 1 lb of shrimp
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • half a small onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled and smashed
  • olive oil
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • 10 cups of water

Pour a swirl of oil into a large pot over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells and heads, and saute them until they are bright pink and very aromatic, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and saute for a minute.

Pour in the water and add the parsley sprigs. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to about 8 cups.

Strain the stock. You can refrigerate it for a few days or freeze it for later use.